Riya Patel, 20 – FUNDED

Riya Patel’s dream is to work in a company where she’s contributing positively to society. What this means to her — ideally — could look something like this: creating products used by emergency services to make their difficult jobs easier. This New Face of Tech winner and computer engineering major at The College of New Jersey loves to work in a team setting, and sees the potential for that sense of community to be reflected in products that are created, as well.

What does being the New Face of Tech mean to you?

It means I get to be a role model to those around me — and even people I may not know. This means that younger girls and women will see me as an example of what’s possible. That’s motivating! It also means that all the work I’ve done, and everything I’ve struggled through, has been recognized.

Women are underrepresented in STEAM. How can we change this?

A huge part of increasing representation in STEAM is exposure — encouraging younger girls to get into hobbies like robotics, computing, and more. I know when I was in middle school and high school those were typically “boy” activities and if I did want to join robotics it would’ve been me and the boys. By having early exposure and encouraging girls to get involved in STEAM, we can bridge the gap at an early age.

Furthermore, having women in STEAM go out to schools and events and explain their success stores along with the challenges they faced and why it was worth it will have a lasting impact.

What are some of the challenges you have faced along the way?

Luckily, at the college I attend, there is a very inclusive community and being a female in engineering has never changed the way that I have been treated. That being said, it isn’t like that everywhere. Prior to entering college, I was still exposed to the stigma of “engineering is for boys” and that I would “never be a part of the boys’ club.”

That said, I still am occasionally the only girl in the classroom of some of my classes. And this is definitely an adjustment.

How do you stay motivated and focused on your goals?

I stay organized. I use Notion to keep track of everything from school assignments and extracurriculars to job and internship applications. I also set due dates for myself and stick to them.

How will funding from the 1,000 Dreams Fund and HARMAN help you reach your goals?

To reach my goals, I plan on enrolling in some courses outside of school and then implementing what I learn. That way, I will have hands-on experience that will be helpful in my career. So, this funding will help with that coursework as well as fund the materials needed for the projects associated with them.